Thursday, March 28, 2019

The benefits of insomnia

We went to bed at 11:30 the other night. I'd had one of those "I'm going to do all the things" days -- successful, I might add -- and I was ready to sleep.

I woke up at 3:50 a.m. with a hot flash. The kind where you have to get up and go outside in your nightie to watch steam come off your body. That's always fun. I came back in, and tried to go back to sleep, but the cold and the effects of the power surge had me wide awake.

Since I have a custom bear due to ship this weekend, and I hadn't started it yet, I decided to go into the sewing room and cut out the pieces. It's a cute little pink footie pajama, but it was newborn size so I had to pair it with some solid pink fabric to make it stretch. I got that done and pinned for the morning (I'm not so bad that I'll sew while Mario's sleeping; he's a sound sleeper, but sewing machine on the other side of the wall might be a bridge too far).

Still not sleepy. Started cleaning up the sewing room, which has to be kept tidier these days because of the size. Also, because I have it laid out well, it's not difficult to clean. So I did that.

And then I sat down, pulled out a pad and pen from the drawer, and started what I thought was making notes for the next day's writing. Those "notes" turned into 6 close-written pages that felt almost like dictation. When I typed them up yesterday, I was surprised at how clear the writing was (both in thought and in actual handwriting), and more than that, I had middle-of-the-night scrawled more than 1800 words, 300 more than my word count goal for the day.

It was a section of the new project I hadn't even planned on starting yet, so I just inserted it where the outline says it belongs, and today I went back to trying to write in order.

If my characters wake me up in the middle of the night again, who knows what gets written next.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Cat Tales

Nicky says he doesn't get enough attention on social media, so here's Nicky.

He's 14 going on 15, and thinks he's a tiny kitten. He's about 18 pounds of tiny kitten, But I won't be the one to tell him.

Along with his sister, Harriet, who is a perma-kitten (1/3 his size), he is one of the last remaining Vlad kittens.

And doesn't he look like his daddy?

Friday, March 22, 2019

New Project

Can't stay with one book forever. Now that my Tudor-era historical is with a publisher, and I've already made it through first pass edits, I'm knee deep in something new.

When I first talked to the publisher's rep, she asked if I had ever thought of turning my book into a series (series are hot right now and I understand that especially from the writer's standpoint--you don't have to research and create another entire new world, you can just continue on with the one you've made), but I said no. I felt like I'd taken my characters as far as they needed to go. Maybe some day I'd consider doing something with one of the side characters, but otherwise not.

So I've gone from 16th century England to 1930s Pennsylvania. How's that for a switch? I've always been fascinated by the Great Depression, the creativity and resilience people needed to survive. My family, of course, being the people that they were, lived through the Depression but wouldn't talk about it because it wasn't "interesting." As if telling the same fourteen stories about the neighbors was fascinating.

So I'm going my own route. It's a tale of two very different sisters--one still lives in the coal mining town where they were born, and the other, who married well, lives in Philadelphia. It's interesting to see my own city through a scrim of 1930s history, what was there, what wasn't, and what I need to make up to fill in the gaps.

I've been searching the internet, as one does, for inspiration photos, and this is a collage I've put together of images that fit the project.

Let me know what you think, and if you/your family have any Depression tales to share, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Book Questions

So it looks like the publication date for my book will be NOVEMBER 3, 2019. 

Having a date makes it feel so much more real.

I'll post more when I know more, but right now I'm in the midst of talking to the editor about last-minute tidying up of the manuscript, possible cover ideas, and fun things like that.

Not sure how much I can disclose here at this point, but if you have any questions about the story, the process of getting it published, or anything else, please feel free. I'm still hopping up and down in a somewhat undignified fashion, tripping over cats, and being able to share more about this might calm me down a little bit.

Or not.

Probably not.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Home Sweet Home

See under the peak
and across?
March 1st was ours first anniversary in the house. It's been a very fast year, yet in some ways it feels like we've been here forever.

Apparently we have now been here long enough for the house to throw a significant repair at us, and I'm going to deal with it before it gets worse. It's probably going to be a shared job with our next-door neighbor, because it's to do with the chimney between our two houses, and the stucco that covers it.

About a week ago, I noticed some wet marks on the stucco high up on the chimney. It had rained a day or two before, so I didn't think too much about it, but the next day, it still looked damp. And there was an area of wetness under the peak of the roof, where the chimney joins the house. It looked the same on his side, so whatever it was, we both had it.

December 2017
I called a contractor I'd used before, who found a mystery leak from our bathroom window (entry point) to our kitchen window (exit point), figuring that he could diagnose the problem even if it wasn't something that he could fix. He came tonight, and yes, he saw the problem right off, and no, it's not in his wheelhouse. We need a proper mason/stucco guy to handle it.

The problem is two-fold -- the silicone caulk connecting the flashing to the chimney has deteriorated and has wide gaps in it, and there are large cracks in the stucco itself, both on the chimney above the roof and for about 3 feet below the roof level. His suspicion is that water has gotten down behind the stucco because of the flashing and then frozen and cracked the stucco, which then will let in more water because of the cracks.

Unhappy stucco
It's going to involve all new stucco for the top several feet of the chimney, at least that's what we think at this point. Which could be worse.

At least there's no water actively coming into the house at this point, and I will do anything to stave that off. If there's anything the old house in West Philly taught me, it's that water is evil, and it goes where it wants.

Friday, March 1, 2019


Snowing today, so I'm wishing for spring
I found out last Friday that my three-day-per-week job was coming to an end. Someone retired recently and they decided to rearrange and combine jobs so that they would only have full-time employees. Unless I wanted full-time? I did not. Full time = overtime, and I most certainly did not want that.

So here I am. Gainfully unemployed at the moment, but I'm okay with it. I have other offices where I've temped regularly, and I'll reach out soon. Right now, I'm enjoying the luxury of being home for a few weeks.

Resting, you know. By starting to prepare for spring craft show season, by finishing some house projects that have been lingering (can you believe it's been a year since we moved?), by writing every day.

I'm waiting on notes from the publisher regarding their suggested edits to my book. Then I get to go through the manuscript and see if I agree with their suggestions, make the changes (if I agree) and defend my choices (if I do not). From the discussion I had with the editor, it doesn't sound like there will be much, but that remains to be seen. Also, one person's definition of "much" is another person's "how dare you say my child is ugly?" So, we'll see.

One of the things that I really like about this publishing co-op is that I have veto power over the cover design. Because there are some awful covers out there, and I'd prefer mine not be one of them. They commission a batch of designs, present them to me, and I can say if I like any of them, and if not, I can at least say what parts of them I liked, and then they do another round of designs. Hoping for good things.

Cats are in flux. When we lose one, it always seems that it takes a while for the rest to discover the new world order, even if it's exactly the same. Annie has been a bit of a bully to Harriet lately, and Nicky, for some strange reason, is being nice to me. I'll take it.

Currently working on a new writing project set during the Great Depression, because it's an era that has always intrigued me. Not a lot to show for it yet, but these things take time. Hopefully not as long a time as the previous one, which could be going to college if it was a person.

If you have any questions about the book project or the process it took for me to (finally) find a publisher, let me know!